We love Hervé Tullet’s ‘Press Here‘ and ‘Mix It Up’ is a lot of fun too. It’s a great book to read but also provides an introduction to the three primary colours, the secondary colours that result from mixing them and shows how you can make colours lighter or darker.
The Story: Starting with a grey dot you tap the book until more colours appear. Then rub the blue and yellow dots to make a new colour. Mix the other primary colours together then tilt, rub and shake to mix the colours up. Add white to make them darker and black to make them lighter then see what colour you get when you mix black and white.
Mixing the primary colours using food colouring
This is an interesting way to mix the three primary colours. First we filled a shallow bowl with milk then dropped three drops of liquid red food colouring slightly away from the centre of the bowl. Then we added three drops of blue and three drops of yellow so that the colours formed a triangle. We squirted a small amount of washing up liquid in the centre of the triangle and watched what happened. (You can read about why the colours mix when you add the washing up liquid here). It was fascinating watching the colours move but it took a while for them to really mix together.
Crepe paper rainbows
One of our favourite art activities is great for showing what happens when you mix the primary colours. We covered a small canvas with strips of red, yellow and blue crepe paper (making sure that there were some overlaps). Then we squirted the paper with water and waited. The second picture shows how the paper looked after half an hour, the third picture shows the paper after leaving it overnight. We removed the paper to see how the colours had mixed (my daughter thinks that it looks like sunset over the sea).
Mixing the primary colours to make sugar flowers
We made sugar flowers by mixing 300g icing sugar and an egg white together. Then we put six spoonfuls of icing into six bowls. Using food colouring we mixed the primary colours first and in the remaining three bowls we mixed two primary colours together to make secondary colours. It was interesting mixing the colours, purple proved to be the most difficult as we started off with too much blue and needed to add lots of red (purple seemed to be a favourite colour, while I was out of the room a little finger decided to have a play!).
I gave my daughter free rein with the leftover icing, for some strange reason everything that she mixed came out with a greenish tinge!
Family handprint picture
This is a recreation of the handprint picture that Hervé Tullet includes in Mix it Up. We drew our hands on white paper, cut them out then stuck them on white paper with Blu-Tack. Using watercolour paints we filled our paper with fingerprints. When it was dry we pulled the hands off.
Colour mixing is always a fun activity and these activities also gave lots of scope for discussion and experimentation.
We’ve also used Mouse Paint to inspire colour mixing activities.
Mix It Up is a fantastic book to read to a class of children who are all eager to get involved and rub, shake and tilt. I have also had lots of fun using Mix It Up to introduce colours to non native English speaking children.
Age Range: 3 +
Author / Illustrator: Hervé Tullet
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